Category News

Leaders meet to try to pass a UN treaty to protect oceans

World leaders will meet at the UN in New York later for more talks to save the world’s oceans from overexploitation. The UN High Seas Treaty has been through 10 years of negotiations but has yet to be signed. If agreed, it would put 30% of the world’s oceans into conservation areas by 2030. Campaigners hope it will protect marine life from overfishing and other human activities.

Two-thirds of the world’s oceans are currently considered international waters, which mean all countries have a right to fish, ship and do research there. But only 1.2% of these high seas, as they are referred to, are protected.

This leaves the marine life living there at risk of exploitation from the increasing threats of climate change, overfishing and shipping traffic.

And with ecosystems in the high...

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Warnings, again, from the ends of the Earth

The East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS), so-called “sleeping giant”, which holds the majority of glacier ice on Earth, is closer to being “awakened” than scientists have previously believed. In research published this week, a team of scientists analyzed how EAIS behaved during warm periods in Earth’s past to predict how it will fare as the world continues heating. Recent satellite images already show signs of thinning ice and melting. 

“A key lesson from the past is that the EAIS is highly sensitive to even relatively modest warming scenarios. It isn’t as stable and protected as we once thought,” said co-author Professor Nerilie Abram, from Australian National University’s Research School of Earth Sciences.

If the global average temperature remains well below 2C, then EAIS is p...

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Can eating fish ever be sustainable?

For someone looking to make their diet more sustainable, the choices when it comes to eating seafood can be frankly baffling. It’s a vast category of food that includes everything from farmed prawns to wild-caught mackerel, and can have a huge array of environmental impacts, from high carbon emissions to the nasty effects of overfishing, slaughtered bycatch or antibiotic pollution.

Many people seeking to eat more environmentally choose to eschew it altogether and go for the vegetarian or vegan option.

But some seafood can be low-carbon, low environmental impact and also be a healthy source of food. And if you’re going to eat fish, making sure you choose a more sustainable option can make a huge difference.

“The category of seafood is really diverse,” says Jessica Gephart, assis...

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Record coral cover doesn’t mean the Great Barrier Reef is in good health

In what seems like excellent news, coral cover in parts of the Great Barrier Reef is at a record high, according to new data from the Australian Institute of Marine Science. But this doesn’t necessarily mean our beloved reef is in good health. In the north of the reef, coral cover usually fluctuates between 20% and 30%. Currently, it’s at 36%, the highest level recorded since monitoring began more than three decades ago.

This level of coral cover comes hot off the back of a disturbing decade that saw the reef endure six mass coral bleaching events, four severe tropical cyclones, active outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, and water quality impacts following floods. So what’s going on?

High coral cover findings can be deceptive because they can result from only a few dominant...

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Greenpeace seize 30km of Industrial Fishing Gear

The activists seized 30.2km of longline, just 2.5% of the total length, including 286 hooks. They released a blue shark, a near threatened species, seven swordfish and other marine life caught on the lines. 

“We could only confiscate a tiny proportion of the longlines, but what we found makes clear the horrors of industrial fishing. What’s the point in protecting a place if environmental destruction like this is still allowed? Protected areas like this are a perfect example of the broken status quo: protected on paper, but not on the water,” said Greenpeace España oceans campaigner Maria José Caballero who was on board the Arctic Sunrise.

Industrial fishing in the Marine Protected Area, the Milne Seamount Complex, makes clear the challenges in properly protecting areas i...

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New Canada Refuge Protects Deep-Water Corals

On World Oceans Day, June 8, the Government of Canada announced the establishment of the Eastern Canyons Marine Refuge, an area of 43,976 square kilometres (about 17,000 square miles) off the coast of Nova Scotia. This region, which stretches out to Canada’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), includes both deep-sea canyons and abyssal plain, and will now be protected from bottom-contact fishing—including trawling, traps, and longlines—under Canada’s Fisheries Act. The act safeguards the nation’s fish and fish habitats and is an example of how tools other than marine protected areas (MPAs) can be used to conserve marine habitat. 

Dr...

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The Ocean Needs You To Protect Your Sunscreen

The importance of sunscreen comes as no surprise. It protects your skin from the sun’s harmful UV radiation and helps prevent skin cancer, making it an essential part of daily skincare. But what you may not know is that many of the sunscreen brands stocked at your local chemist or drugstore are made with toxins that endanger a critically important ocean ecosystem.

Every year, up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen residue make their way into the ocean and contaminate coral reefs. Despite having a hard exoskeleton that gives them a plant-like appearance, coral reefs are actually made up of colonies of small animals called polyps. Often referred to as the rainforests of the sea, they shelter more than a quarter of marine life, making them among the most diverse ecosystems on the planet...

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Scientists Race to Restore Florida’s Nearly Extinct Reefs

On a few nights each August, just days after the full moon, Hanna Koch will be keeping watch at the Mote Marine Laboratory’s outpost on Florida’s Summerland Key, peering into tubs of water at the tentacle-ringed mouths of brilliant green, yellow, and purple corals. Close to midnight, staghorn, elkhorn, brain, and star corals will release tens of thousands of tiny glowing orbs into the water, and Koch will have her only chances of the year to create new generations of the species.

Each orb, or gamete bundle, holds millions of sperm and multiple eggs. In the wild, the bundles would separate, find different partners, and combine to create larvae that would swim and ride currents to settle on reefs...

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Microplastics Infecting Most Pristine Corners of the World

Plastic pollution is so insidious that it has entered even the most sacred of places. In 2012, a seal washed ashore in Massachusetts because its stomach was inflamed by all the plastic it had swallowed; seven years later a submarine diving to the bottom of America’s deepest point, the Mariana Trench, discovered a plastic bag; and as recently as March a study revealed that three out of four people have microplastics in their blood.

Since microplastics are so small that they have entered our blood — plastic particles are by definition less than 5 millimeters in length — it stands to reason that they have contaminated the most pristine human locales on the planet...

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Builders Vision and Bloomberg invest $18m for coral reefs

On the sidelines of the UN Oceans Conference, held from 27 June to 1 July 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal, the governments of Portugal and Kenya co-organised a forum on investment in the sustainable blue economy. One of the outcomes of the initiative was an increase in the capital of the Global Coral Reef Fund (GCRF). With two new commitments totalling US$18 million, the GFCR’s capital now stands at US$170 million.

The larger of the two contributions is from Builders Vision, an impact platform offering philanthropic tools and versatile investments to individuals and organisations committed to sustainable development. Builders Vision is investing US$5-10 million in the RFCG’s equity fund, as well as contributing US$5 million to the RFCG’s catalytic grant fund.

Bloomberg Philanthropies...

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